Monday, September 5, 2016

Cocoa Puff Waffles with Zesty Cocoa Puff Honey #Sponsored

Sponsored by Big G General Mills Cereals.

I used to think that honey was just honey. Then I found out about varietal honeys that come from bees that feed on specific flowers. Then I found out about hot honey. No, the bees don't feast on pepper flowers - the spice is added to honey.

And that's part of how this recipe came about.

My buddies the Big G Cereals team at General Mills challenged me to come up a with a recipe using Cocoa Puffs for a sponsored post, and the first thing I thought of was adding something spicy, because chocolate and spice are such good friends. And then spice immediately led to hot honey.

I had a few different ideas before I settled upon waffles studded with Cocoa Puffs along with a spicy chocolate honey. If you're not fond of spicy foods for breakfast, you can certainly leave out the cayenne. Chocolate honey is still pretty darned good.

These waffles aren't super-sweet on their own. And if you haven't had Cocoa Puffs in a while, you might want to know that they aren't super-sweet, either. They've got a nice chocolate flavor, but they're not like candy. I really love that.

The reason General Mills is sponsoring this post right now is that September is National Whole Grain Month and whole grain is the first ingredient in all General Mills Big G Cereals - including the Cocoa Puffs I used, which are made with whole grain corn. In all Big G cereals, there is more whole grain than any other single ingredient, including sugar from all combined sources. That's pretty impressive.

No wonder those Cocoa Puffs weren't super-sweet.

A whopping 95 percent of Americans don't get enough whole grain in their diet. Pretty amazing, considering how many folks are so interested in healthy foods these days. And fiber - which is one of the nutrients you'll find in whole grain - is something people are concerned about.

I've been trying to improve my diet, and swapping whole grains for more refined grains is part of the plan. I'm not going to completely give up refined flours - moderation is my mantra - but I've been swapping in whole grains when they make sense.

And by make sense, I mean that the food has to taste good. I've tried some whole grain products that made me feel like I was eating mulch. Sorry, but no.

So, to make these waffles even more better for me, I added a good dose of whole wheat flour. Sometimes whole wheat is tricky to work with - you can't always substitute it 1:1 for white flour in a recipe. Or you can, but sometimes you end up with a product that's a little too dense. So most of the time, I use some whole wheat and some white flour. See? Moderation.

I tweaked this recipe a few times, messing with the liquids and the flours, trying to get exactly the right flavor and the right texture. My last tweak was actually a mistake - I grabbed the bread flour instead of the all-purpose flour, and I really liked the result. The waffles were soft and fluffy on the inside with a nice crisp brown on the outside.

Meanwhile, the Cocoa Puffs added a little bit of chocolate in every bite.

As far as the honey - if you have any left after you've stuffed yourself with waffles, try it drizzled on fried chicken. Trust me.

Zesty Cocoa Puff Honey
Makes a little more than 1 cup of honey

1 cup Cocoa Puffs
1 cup honey
Pinch of cayenne pepper (or to taste)
Pinch of salt (optional)

Put the Cocoa Puffs in a blender and blend until the pieces are as small as you can get them. Add the honey, a small pinch of cayenne pepper, and the salt, if using. Blend until the Cocoa Puffs are incorporated into the honey. Scrape down the sides of the blender, if necessary.

When this is first blended, there will be small crunchy bits in the honey, but they soften and dissolve as the mixture rests.

Taste for seasoning and add more cayenne, if desired. Wait about 10 minutes, then blend again, to incorporate the softened bits of Cocoa Puffs. Transfer to a container for storage and serving.

Cocoa Puff Waffles with Zesty Cocoa Puff Honey
Makes 6-8 waffles (depending on your waffle maker)

2 eggs
1 cup bread flour (use all-purpose flour if you don't have bread flour)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Cocoa Puffs (a little bit more won't hurt)

Heat your waffle maker while you make the waffle batter.

Put the eggs in a medium bowl and beat with a whisk until they are well blended and a little lighter in color.

Add the rest of the ingredients (except the Cocoa Puffs) and mix until the batter is smooth. Stir in the Cocoa Puffs.

Pour the waffle batter into the waffle maker, using the amount appropriate for your particular waffle maker. Cook until nicely browned.

Serve with butter (if desired) and the Cocoa Puff honey.

If a stack of waffles is too much for you to tackle, cut the waffles in quarters and serve them with the Cocoa Puff honey as a dip. Perfect for smaller appetites!

Thanks to General Mills Big G Cereals for sponsoring this post!